Recently, Uber announced a change in the way they judge drivers’ performance and decide to terminate a driver. Instead of a hard “3 strikes” rule that deactivates a driver after receiving 3 complaints from riders, Uber will take into account the type of complaint, the driver’s tenure, and the credibility of the rider making the complaint. For example, complaints about having “too many pickups” or bad “co-rider” etiquette might have affected an Uber driver’s rating. Today, these complaints are still valid but no longer factor into their score. And rightly so, because these issues aren’t always in their control.
Here is yet another example of how tech is being used to judge employee performance and user credibility. While this is a hefty responsibility to put in the hands of an algorithm, we believe Uber’s change is a step in the right direction. Judging a person’s performance isn’t always as simple as a game of baseball. For example, a driver with 3 years under their belt probably has gotten more complaints than a driver with 3 months. And a rider who consistently complains about every ride likely has unreasonably high expectations. There are a lot of nuances to human interaction, and a good algorithm would factor all of these into the equation.
If you want to delve deeper and raise more questions to keep Uber accountable, we would ask: How does Uber choose the minimum star-rating drivers need to keep their job? Uber says it’s different for each city, because “there are cultural differences in the way people in different cities rate each other.” That’s great, but how exactly do they measure these “cultural differences”? Is there an objectively good measure, or do they just put all their drivers onto a bell curve, and throw out the bottom 10%? It’s better we figure out what Uber considers a “good ride” before they decide to put an algorithm behind the wheel altogether.
One thing we’ve tried to do is bring our concerns to Uber’s attention. After a few searches, we realized Uber does not have a suggestion box or public contact info on their website. There is a community of Uber drivers that have plenty of insight for their employer, but nowhere to go to have their voices heard. As an Uber driver, we think your best bet is tweeting @Uber_Support, because they tend to respond quickly. As riders, it doesn’t hurt to check in on your fellow driver and be a sounding board for their thoughts on how to improve the ride-sharing experience. Let’s stay vigilant and make sure that ride-sharing technology works for all parties involved.